Open House

Today was Open House New York, an annual two day event where lots of places around the city that are typically closed to the public are open and available for tours. Since more and more places have been closed since 9/11 it is a very exciting event, the one chance that most people will get to see the lobby of the Chrysler building, or an MTA substation, or the secret corridors between the windows at Grand Central.

Kid Flash and I had one of our very early dates during this weekend back when we met, and we toured Highbridge tower, and a building out on Roosevelt Island. This weekend we chose three places to see.

First up was the Society of Mechanics and Tradesman, a former technical school, and home of one of the first unions. It was an interesting building, and certainly not somewhere that I would have considered visiting on a regular day, but the most interesting thing about it turned out to be the enormous collection of locks that they had on display in the library.

Next up was the Grand Temple of the Masons. The home of the Masons in New York state and the building where some 60 different Lodges of Masons meet weekly. There are 12 different Lodge rooms, each designed in a different style. Sounds cool, right? It was pretty awful actually. The rooms ended up being over-designed boxy affairs with plaster casts of various ornaments, columns, and what-not. It was all restored in the 90's and as we were reminded over and over again all the rooms, ornaments and all had been painted beige for decades up to that point. Instead they are now painted in multi-color gaudy schemes with some (not very well done, frankly) faux finishes. The people with us on the tour seemed most interested in asking questions about Masonry (doubtless fuled by Dan Brown and bad Discovery Channel pseudo-docs), which just served to drag things out further, and so the half hour we were supposed to be there turned into nearly 2 hours. The half hour would have been more than enough.

We wrapped up the day with the real gem, Grace Church on the lower East side. The cool thing here wa sthe stained glass, all over the church, in a huge variety of styles and periods ranging over nearly 200 years.

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